Handwriting vs. Typing, Part II

One last thought on handwriting, concerning the way we all view our penmanship with some blend of curiosity, vanity and shame:

  • “Wow, my handwriting is terrible.”
  • “Wow, my handwriting is beautiful.”
  • “Wow, I haven’t done this in months, except to sign credit card receipts.”

I don’t believe anyone is indifferent about how their handwriting looks any more than I believe anyone is indifferent about how their face and body look. Sure, maybe some people care more than others, but everyone cares, or notices, at least a little.

And when we’re writing by hand, we have no choice but to look at our own handwriting. So whatever opinion we have of it is a constant presence in our brains as we engrave the page.

What I’m of course suggesting is that nice, orderly handwriting is more likely to be spelling out nice, orderly thoughts, maybe with a tinge of pride. Ragged, chaotic handwriting is more likely to trace the mouth of madness.

You won’t be surprised to learn that I base this on extensive, peer-reviewed research (LOL, JK, LMAO et al., 2004, pp. 210-219). Look, I’m not saying the shopping list of someone with bad handwriting is necessarily going to be something out of Kafka. But I also don’t accept that there’s no connection at all between penmanship and content.

In typing, your Arial and my Arial look equally stylish, your Comic Sans and my Comic Sans look equally ridiculous. They don’t reflect anything back at us. Maybe the few handwriting advocates out there benefit from the mirror effect of looking at their beautiful or hideous calligraphy, while for the rest of us it’s just a distraction.

Wait, does that mean the computer can actually remove a writing distraction? Mind officially blown.

For some interactive fun on the subject, check this out.

And here’s my ridiculous handwriting (of this blog post). Probably more legible out-of-focus and backwards anyway:



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